Via Spoons, Clinton W. Taylor provides additional information about Annie Jacobsen’s article on her fears of a hijacking. I agree with both Taylor and Spoons. In particular, I think that the failure of the airplane staff to enforce regulations (most particularly, during the landing when everyone was supposed to be seated).
Beyond that there is the question of what these men were actually doing. If it was, in fact, them just playing with the passengers, that’s not just something one should shrug off anymore than one should shrug off a bomb threat. In the case of the latter, there’s really little difference in consequences between claiming to put a bomb on an airplane and actually putting one on. This is for the good reason that any bomb threat has to be taken with the utmost seriousness. We need to start looking at hijackings the same way. Joking around about it or just yanking people’s chains simply can’t be tolerated in an age where such things do happen with horrific consequences.
It seems that we’re in a cultural / political position where moderate responses are out of the question. For instance, passengers are either searched completely at random or all Middle Eastern males should be searched. I suspect it’s part of the general expecation of perfection, where anyone making a judgement had better be absolutely right or there will be severe retribution. The concept of “honest mistake” seems to have been left by the wayside some time ago.